Thursday, 27 August 2015

Cop Out

Who doesn't love Bruce Willis?
He's one of America's most beloved action heroes, his breakout movie single-handedly redefined the action genre.
Well, according to the internet, practically everyone who's ever worked with him.
And especially the people who worked on this movie.
Fitting name really.
By all accounts, this movie is terrible. With only a 19% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it just can't be any good can it?
Well, let's see.
The movie opens on Brooklyn, where Bruce Willis is a police detective.
Bruce Willis as a NYC detective? I've never seen that before.
Let's play a game. It's the "Buddy Cop Cliche" game. It's very easy to play, all you have to do is count the buddy cop cliches and try not to kill yourself by the end of the film.
Anyway, those two cops are called Jimmy (Bruce) and Paul (Played by Tracy Morgan). They're on their way to interrogate a suspect.
As they eye up the suspect from the other side of the mirror, Paul bemoans how he never gets to interrogate the suspects. Jimmy counters by pointing out that all he ever does is quote old movies.
Buddy Cop cliche #1, the annoying cop and the annoyed cop.
Guess which is which.
Jimmy relents and Paul gets to interrogate the suspect. 
By emptying his gun, bursting into the room and pretending to be an escaped felon.
Buddy Cop cliche #2, the unusual interrogation.
Paul's performance is insane and rather cringeworthy, screaming lines so badly that you can't even tell what he's quoting. But eventually he starts asking actual question and the suspect relents, telling them everything. There's a drug deal going on that day, but he's just a courier. 
So Jimmy and Paul decide to go undercover.
Undercover police work 101, attract as much attention as possible to how out of place you are.
The suspect from earlier is inside, working as though everything is normal. When his contact arrives and gives him a large box, his obvious nerves and the out-of-placeness of Paul tip the crook off.
His response is perfectly reasonable.
So the crook shoots the place up and runs off on foot, with Paul in hot pursuit (Still wearing the phone costume).
Of course, this could have been avoided if they had had someone covering the back, but it apparently didn't occur to them that their plant might get nervous.
(Hot tip, real-life cops prepare for things like this).
Paul tries to commandeer a bicycle from someone who refuses, so Paul punches him and takes the bike.
This may actually have been the very first movie to remember that modern phones have cameras.
Paul loses track of the guy, but Jimmy corners him on a train platform. The crook runs out of bullets, so he jumps across the tracks directly in front of a train.
I believe the phrase is "Parkour".
Back at the police station Jimmy and Paul are getting chewed out by their superior.
Cliche #4, the buddy cops being chewed out by their boss.
Cliche #3 was the failed mission at the start of the movie.
The superior is angry about the mess because there was already an investigation going on it that area. He's also angry because the video of Paul punching the kid went viral, so he's suspending them for a month without pay.
If it had been the white cop who had punched the black kid, he'd have been suspended with pay and this would have been an entirely different movie.
But anyway, Jimmy's angry because his daughter's wedding is coming up and he needed the money to pay for it, because he's from the 1950s apparently.
Seriously, who expects the father of the bride to pay for the wedding these days?
Jimmy and Paul have to hand over their guns and they storm off, but along the way they're accosted by Cliche #5, the rival cops.
These Guys.
They banter with Jimmy and Paul, who insult them back, but they take it in good graces, even complimenting the creativity of some of the insults.
So yeah, this movie takes the odd approach of making the rival cops more likable than the protagonists.
As Paul drives Jimmy to a fancy restaurant to see his daughter, Paul loans Jimmy his favourite gun, since Jimmy doesn't want to tell his daughter that he got suspended.
Cliche #6, the glove compartment full of guns.
They enter the restaurant and meet Jimmy's family, consisting of his daughter, his ex-wife and her new husband. Who's rich.
Cliche #7, the ex-wife with a rich boyfriend/fiance/husband.
Jimmy's daughter Eva excitedly talks about her wedding and shows Jimmy the bill, which is a tad on the expensive side.
Dang girl, who do you think you are, Chelsea Clinton?
Seeing a slight twitch of dismay on Jimmy's face, the rich guy offers to pay for it, but Jimmy refuses, saying that as the father it's his job.
Also, he compares rich guy to murderers and rapists for even daring to offer to pay.
Actually, he doesn't just compare him to murderers and rapists, he explicitly states that he's worse.
Though the rich guy does call Jimmy out for being a deadbeat father who's never had to pay alimony.
This does bolster Jimmy's resolve to pay for the wedding and he takes a rare baseball card out of a safe in order to sell it to get the money.
Meanwhile, Paul's having an argument with his wife, since he thinks she's cheating on him with the neighbour.
Cliche #8, over paranoid cop snooping around his significant other's business that damages his relationship.
The highly attractive significant other who puts up with the protagonists immaturity is a cliche from another genre.
Despite her reassurances he still doesn't trust her, so he sets up a teddy bear nanny cam to keep an eye on her.
I'm sure this won't backfire spectacularly.
Later, Paul's driving Jimmy to sell his baseball card (Does Jimmy not own a car?) and Jimmy explains why his Andy Pafko card is so important.
It's essentially the single most sought after baseball card ever, since it was the very first one. And Jimmy's father kept his copy in a sealed card sleeve, where it stayed for almost 60 years.
And after a quick Google search, I found that this card could fetch roughly $190,000, easily enough to cover the wedding and more besides.
This movie went to a lot of effort to make sure the MaGuffin made sense.
Although Jimmy says that the last one went for $83,000, so I'm going to chalk that up to inflation over the last five years.
While Paul waits outside Jimmy takes the card in to get appraised, but right at that moment some thugs run in, tase Jimmy and steal both his baseball card and his gun.
And yes, that is Stiffler from American Pie. No, he's not any less annoying.
Jimmy, having at least part of a brain, calls the police about the robbery.
But he gets the rival guys from earlier, so he deliberately stymies their investigation.
because apparently he doesn't have the other half of that brain.
So instead they start their own investigation, Paul noting that there had been several local robberies. So he checked tattoo parlours and found one who gave someone a tattoo that matches the one Stiffler's character had.
So they decide to ask the tattooist about it.
In the politest way possible of course.
He tells them that Stiffler owes him money but had promised to pay back after robbing a house that night. Fortunately, Stiffler was dumb enough to tell the tattooist the address of the house he was robbing.
So that night Jimmy and Paul stake out the house and are rewarded when Stiffler shows up, parkouring his way into the house via the roof.
Complications arise however, when the owner returns with her 10-year-old child (And she's asking him about a meme that's older than he is), so Jimmy and Paul rush over and try to get her to take he son across the street while they apprehend him.
She has other plans.
Of course, since this isn't set in Texas Jimmy tells her to put the gun away and cross the street so that the professional police can do their job.
She just tells them not to damage her furniture.
I'll bet she votes Republican.
Jimmy and Paul enter the house to find Stiffler, but unfortunately Paul apparently doesn't watch too many movies despite quoting them, since he doesn't look up.
He even knew the guy was a parkour master, there's no excuse.
As Stiffler jumps Paul, the noise attracts Jimmy who comes running (And falling) down the stairs, where he finds Stiffler holding Paul at gunpoint.
Because Paul is bad at being a cop.
As the standoff continues, the mother bursts in shooting the place up.
"Stop, or the mum will shoot! Again!"
She yells until Stiffler hands her the gun (She wouldn't let him drop it on her new floor) and the scene transitions to the crook who outran Jimmy earlier. Some goons from their gang were delivering a Mercedes to the gang boss when it got stolen and the boss isn't happy. The crook shoots the two goons in the head as the boss offers $5,000 to anyone who can return the car, since the contents are vital to expanding his drug operation.
Just so you know, this is the bad guy.
The next day Jimmy and Paul are driving Stiffler somewhere and he's being an annoying, immature douchebag.
This guy, acting like an immature douchebag? Never.
The scene goes on for rather a long time and if it weren't for Tracy Morgan's portrayal of rising frustration, it would bomb really, really hard.
Especially since Bruce Willis barely participates.
But afterwards they stop in some vacant lot somewhere and get out, handcuffing Stiffler to the rear bumper so that they can interrogate him about the location of the baseball card.
And it's far more entertaining than the previous interrogation scene.
Stiffler flips and gives up the name of his drug dealer, whom he sold both the card and the gun to.
So they of course go to the home of 'Po-Boy' and ask about him.
They ask as politely as possible of course.
Despite the threats the homies don't say anything, so Jimmy and Paul walk in anyway.
And find a whole room dedicated to baseball. And I mean, obsessively dedicated.
There is something incredibly disturbing about this picture.
Po-Boy is of course the gang boss, and they have a nice little chat about baseball.
Of course, everyone in the room knows that he has the card, so Po-Boy suggests a deal. He'll happily hand over the card if the police do him a favour. namely, find his missing car.
Being cops, they turn him down.
In hindsight, not the wisest move.
So they agree to track down the car and they start by talking to Brooklyn's biggest car thief.
This guy. Kid. Whatever.
The kid refuses to talk since he's a minor and they can't do anything to him. Paul shouts at him, but gets a kick in the nutsack for his troubles.
So he punches the kid in the gut.
It all gets resolved when Jimmy threatens to tell the kid's mother and he panics, telling them who stole it.
Meanwhile, the rival cops are investigating two corpses found on a beach.
Apparently Po-Boy was too busy buying baseball cards to hide the bodies.
Interestingly the movie chooses to show the rival cops as highly competent investigators, which makes sense. Too many times do we see cliche #9, the idiot cops put in charge of the protagonists' case, so it's refreshing.
Meanwhile, Jimmy and Paul find the house of the car thief and argue about who's going to be the bad cop again. Jimmy wins and busts into the house, waving his gun wildly at the guy.
And he literally says "Take her instead."
In comes Paul, holding his badge in front of him and talking like a robot. The car thief is apparently an idiot though and he buys it. Jimmy demands that they escape in his car, but the thief says no, since he's already got his wife.
Dude, get your priorities straight.
This scene is just awkward. Just like the opening interrogation, Paul spouts off lines from movies and it just doesn't work. There are moments when listening to the guy is painful.
So, skipping ahead, they get the car and are driving away when the crook from earlier shows up, trying to kill them.
Eh, I've seen weaker excuses for a chase scene.
The chase scene goes for a while, eventually turning into a graveyard where the crook's car crashes into an open grave (Presumably a grave for a very wide person, since it fit a whole car inside it) and the crook goes sailing through the windscreen.
This is why even gangsters performing drive-bys should wear their seatbelts.
Jimmy and Paul park the car in a car park and search it.
They don't find anything of note.
Wait, this car was stolen three or four nights ago, and the car thief was using it as his personal car. Am I supposed to believe that he never thought to check the boot? Did he hear knocking and screaming and just think that it was common engine noises?
Back with Po-Boy and he's torturing the driver who chased after them earlier, due to the fact that the crook who died was his younger brother. So we can add cliche #10, the protagonists accidentally kill someone important to the gang boss.
And he takes his baseball obsession a little too far.
Jimmy and Paul take Gabriela (The lady from the boot of the car) somewhere she can clean up and eat. Plus, they know a guy who can translate Spanish. His name's manuel and he's a waiter.
Sadly, not this Manuel.
Manuel asks Gabriela what her story is and after two minutes of her speaking in Spanish (Which I don't understand, so she could be talking about her bunions for all I know) he says that they need to talk somewhere private.
In other words, this scene was entirely pointless.
Back at the station and the rival cops have gotten the forensic reports back from the corpses.
Bad news, they were shot with Paul's gun.
So cliche #11, the good cop's gun is used in a crime, making him suspect #1.
Also, they have a running gag about shoes.
Meanwhile, Jimmy and Paul are hearing Gabriela's story. She was the girlfriend of a prominent Mexican gang leader, but after his death she tried to flee to America to avoid his enemies. Instead, someone sold her out and she got thrown into the boot of the car.
So cliche #12, the ex-girlfriend of a gang leader. Okay, so it's not the ex of the gang leader the characters are currently fighting, but it's still cliche enough to count.
They leave and visit Paul's house, where Jimmy talks about his daughter and how he wants to pay for the wedding so he won't seem like such a jerk.
It would be a powerful moment if Bruce Willis didn't phone it in.
Even great actors have off days.
Paul returns with some guns and the nanny cam bear, asking Jimmy to press the play button. Once again, it's a scene that goes on for far too long.
Long scene cut short, Jimmy presses the play button.
He sits and watches a scene of Paul's wife (In lingerie) sitting on her bed and beckoning a man towards her, but Jimmy lies and says it's empty.
Later, just as they're hiding Gabriela in a motel, Jimmy gets a call from the rival cops. They explain that Paul's gun was found on the corpse of a known criminal and that he should meet them, which he does.
After they explain literally everything they know to the partner of a cop they think is dirty, he insults them and threatens them, before walking off.
Meanwhile, back with Paul, Gabriela pretends to have a bath and leaves.
Though not without good reason.
While she 'showers' Paul notices the bear and presses play on the camera.
He is not pleased with what he sees.
After Jimmy gets back they talk and discover that Gabriela left. But she did leave a note and her crucifix necklace, which turns out to be hiding a usb stick.
They check the stick and find lots of information about Gabriela's dead boyfriend's bank accounts, totaling $750mil.
The next day they decide to use Po-Boy's brothers' funeral as their chance to break into Po-Boy's house and steal back the card. But of course, neither of them are master thieves, so they persuade a friend to help them out.
It goes well.
Obviously, Stiffler failed to break into Po-Boy's house and instead slipped, killing himself. Paul and Jimmy rush over to check on him and the movie fails to deliver a "He's dead, Jim" joke.
This movie was produced by Kevin Smith (Silent Bob) and it didn't deliver us a "He's dead, Jim" joke.
I feel betrayed.
Anyway, they throw his corpse into the back of Paul's car and try plan B.
If plan A had been "Bring a ladder" Stiffler wouldn't be dead.
While he waits in the car Paul decides to watch the rest of the video of his wife cheating on him. I have no idea why, presumably it's because he didn't get a look at the guys' face and wants to confirm that it's his neighbour.
But just as his wife gets up to "Get a rubber" (Which in England would not make sense) she grabs the bear and talks directly to Paul, introducing her gay cousin Eric.
And she's peeved at Paul.
And because this is fiction, she will naturally forgive him.
Po-Boy returns to the house, dragging Gabriela with him and demanding his crucifix. Gabriela's screaming alerts Jimmy just as Paul phones him.
Later, as Po-Boy prepares to torture Gabriela for information, Paul phones him, telling him to meet beneath a bridge in an hour, with both the girl and the card.
Naturally, Po-Boy decides to double-cross the cops and instead sends the vast majority of his men to the bridge.
Just as Jimmy and Paul get into position however, the two rival cops show up. They figured that the only thing connecting Paul to the crook was his gun, which they reason could have been stolen. So they decided to go and talk to Po-Boy to see what they could find out.
Which leads us to cliche #12, all the good guys just happen to get to the final fight scene at roughly the same time.
Just as they're about to round the corner (And get shot by one of Po-Boy's men) paul jumps up and saves their lives.
One of them does get clipped by a bullet, so Jimmy jumps down to cover them while the uninjured one legs it to the car so he can call it in (because unlike most cop movies, this one follows actual procedure and has the characters call for backup).
It even provides a scene where jumping over a car bonnet makes sense.
With backup on the way, Jimmy and Paul decide to rescue Gabriela, sneaking in through the second floor balcony. After some shooting they reach the traditional standoff.
Which counts as cliche #13, by the way.
Po-Boy has duct-taped the barrel of his shotgun to the back of her head as a way to prevent them from shooting him.
It doesn't work.
So with the bad guy dead and the police surrounding the place, the good guys stumble out. The rival cop who got shot is taken away in an ambulance, the FBI arrive to take Gabriela into witness protection and Jimmy even finds his baseball card.
Well, most of it.
Of course, with the card destroyed Jimmy has to suck up his pride and let the rich husband pay for the wedding. Although when it comes time to say that they both give Eva away, Paul points a gun in the back of rich guy's back and tells him to sit down.
Proving that some characters don't quite finish their character development before the end of the movie.

Oh, and Stiffler's not really dead, he was just unconscious.
Still an annoying douchebag though.
This movie wasn't actually that bad. Sure, some scenes were cringeworthy and some of the jokes fell flat, along with some entirely pointless scenes, but the jokes that did work worked really well. Sure, it hit many buddy cop cliches but it played with them enough to still be refreshing. Especially the rival cops.
I feel like this movie was almost a great movie. But, sadly, by all accounts Bruce Willis just phoned it in and made life difficult for everyone else, which meant the movie quickly went from being something loved by the creators to being a chore.
(Although take that with a pinch of salt, it's also said that director Kevin Smith didn't interact with the actors enough, so who knows?)
My point is, this movie is definitely better than 19%, but how much better is subjective, dependent on your breed of humour.

Next week is a special treat for me because it's the very first movie I ever saw in HD.
It's also based on a Neil Gaiman book.

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